Researchers at WCHN Lyme Disease Biobank fine tuning test for detection

DANBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Researchers at Western Connecticut Health Network Lyme Disease Biobank are tweaking their work on a blood-based test to detect Lyme Disease sooner than later.

“You can see if the organism is present, you get a very robust response,” explains Dr. Paul Fiedler.

They’re doing it by detecting the organism itself — that causes the tick-transmitted disease.

“These are positive cases, we look at five genes in each case,” he says.

Though not yet ready for patient use, work is already underway for when the test is available in hospital settings, using less expensive user-friendly technology.

Dr. Fielder is the principal investigator, “We have found that when patients first seek medical attention, the CDC’s test is only positive a third of the time on that very first visit.”

The test they’re developing here could provide clarity for patients still battling symptoms after treatment.

“We’re optimistic that as we perfect this test,” says Dr. Fiedler, “we will be able to follow these patients and see if there is persistence of the organism in their blood.”

Meantime, the push for urine samples from patients is underway.

He says, “The preliminary data that has been published so far is very encouraging– that there is a tight correlation between finding the proteins of the organism in urine and in the presence of active disease.”

Laurie McGuire is on the registry.

“I started having symptoms of arthritis and joint stiffness,” she says.

Laurie was recently diagnosed with Lyme after months of suffering, “I think that the more they can advance medical testing that the better off everyone is.”

The challenge here is validating the complex work.

Dr. Fielder says, “We cannot predict if or when it will be available.”

The Biobank is looking for more people to register blood and urine samples.

For the blood serum study, they need patients recently diagnosed, not on antibiotics or for no more than 72 hours.

For more information, call 203-739-8383.

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